.. says female education panacea to nation’s devt, citing UAE’s case
As a recipient of the African Women Industrialisation Award, (AWIA), to commemorate 2021 International Women’s day in Nigeria, the wife of Ondo State governor Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has attributed the slow pace of development in the country to the low rate of educated women.
She said this at the AWIA Award of Recognition to celebrate African Amazons @60th independence of Nigeria, held at Raddison Blu hotel Ikeja Lagos, where she was bestowed with the Mother of the Year Award for Empowerment.
Mrs Akeredolu also noted that the feat of the President of World Trade Congress, Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had shown that African women were now untameable and could no longer be subjugated with norms and traditions.
The Ondo First Lady, who served as the Chairman of the occasion, made an analytical comparation of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, a country that was classified along Nigeria as low income countries in the 1970s, but now a high income country, noting that the UAE was able to move ahead of Nigeria as a result of female education.
“The UAE government made significant strategic investments in the girl-child education and 40 years later, just like magic, more than 90% of women in that country are well educated. Infact 70% of the university graduates in UAE are women.
“On the contrary, Nigeria female illiteracy population remains high till date. More than half of our women are still without a formal education. These facts made me conclude that; one more educated woman leads to an increase in a nation’s income.
“There is no greater tool for fighting gender inequality than girl-child education. As women of substance, we must deploy all our arsenals towards female education. If we want to achieve equal seats in the Local Government Legislative Houses, State Houses of Assembly, and National Assembly, have many more women as CEOs, or lead the affairs of this nation, we must have many more educated women”, said Mrs Akeredolu.
Mrs Akeredolu also emphasised the need to improve the health status of women through more women-oriented policies, noting this could be achieved only if there were more women in leadership roles.
Highlighting some of the achievements of the Governor Akeredolu-led administration in Ondo State to provide qualitative health care for the women, the Ondo First Lady noted that over 3,000 pregnant women had received free birth kits under the SOLAYO Safe Motherhood initiative.
According to her, the SOLAYO initiative which was aimed at tackling the rate of maternal mortality in the state, provided the pregnant women with every needed kits for antenatal care.
Receiving the award of the Woman of the Year, (Mother of the Year category of Empowerment), Mrs Akeredolu described it as a challenge to do more and reaffirmed her commitment to the cause of Womanhood and grooming of younger ones that are malleable.
She urged well-meaning Nigerian women to keep empowering young girls with leadership programmes and mentorship, which she said was the only way to achieve sustainable development.
“This award is rather a motivation than achievement for me. I am using it as an opportunity to encourage and challenge all well-meaning women in Nigeria, especially the First Ladies, to seek out young girls and empower them through leadership programs and mentorship”, she said.
In addition to emphasis on education for girls, Mrs Akeredolu also called for the need to remove all barriers, and promote their interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (STEM).
“For me this is most vital and I continue to work relentlessly to achieve it. Through my foundation (Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation) with support from partners, we have been able to train over a thousand girls in ICT and solar technology. A lot of these girls who are now my mentees have begun to take bold steps towards becoming women of impact”, she noted.
In her welcome address, the Convener of AWIA Award, Mrs Nnabugwu Chinyere Peace noted that it was a special way to celebrate women who had exemplified themselves in service to others.
She explained further that the event which was fixed on the International Women’s Day, became imperative to build a platform that would mentor, celebrate, encourage and support women on leveraging technology to structure their businesses and still stayed healthy.
“It is designed to showcase these astonishing and impactful women. This, we hope will afford us to the great privilege to tell our success stories in our languages as well as own our struggles and victories”, she added.
A guest speaker and Head of West Africa of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, Ms. Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye said it was high time women took action against injustice against womanhood.
She noted that a woman must take action when fellow woman was being harrased and molested, denied justice, saying to change the whole world, the change can begin by impacting the lives of women in the neighborhood.
The BBC boss, therefore charged women to be alert, conscious and be committed to encouraging women who were struggling to make ends meet, and to kick against under-age hawking.
The event featured panel discussions among women of substance who extensively analysed how women can be independent financially, build their business brands, a health talk on the need for routine medical check-up, and tips on security.
Special Assistant (Media)